Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Nearly Didn't Make It

Those who live far from four lane highways and interstates must consider a new issue when we travel to distant appointments. In the past, you could figure a mile a minute on open highway in good weather. Tweak that for town speed limits and stoplights. Only during harvest season did you expect to deal with slow moving, oversized vehicles. Nowadays, travelers heading south down Highway 183 from Phillipsburg anticipate a slow jaunt not behind just one wind tower or blade in tow, but several. Fortunate drivers will cruise at a crawl until they pass those behemoths.

Recently, I’ve experienced instances heading to an appointment in Hays where I found myself thrilled that my family trained me to leave well ahead of time no matter what the reason. Here’s the dilemma. How early does one need to depart when caravans of wind turbine carriers take over a road designed for 65 mph traffic and roll along at 40 to 50 miles an hour?

The other day, my dentist worked me in for an emergency appointment at noon. I calculated mileage and slowdowns through the five communities along my path. Under perfect conditions, I’d arrive in 1 1/2 hours. In less than optimal circumstances, I’d need another 15 minutes, so I left 35 minutes early. You can imagine my chagrin when I spied slow-moving vehicle flashers at Glade.

Initially, I figured I’d pass the warning vehicle, turbine truck, and the pickup ahead of it with blinking yellow lights before Stockton’s city limit sign. No worries. I had yet to note two additional long, white, ultra-wide pillars and their escorts. My hopes sank when those became visible once I reached the region’s highest hill. Darn! I counted fourteen vehicles trapped ahead of me amongst these diesel tortoises’ creeping procession. I looked in the rear view mirror and noted at least four agitated drivers behind me. Nineteen of us were murmuring unkind thoughts about the economic benefits of wind generated electricity.

At Stockton, my bladder announced the arrival of that morning’s coffee. I’d passed one turbine team so there was no way I’d listen to nature’s irritating call. By Plainville, that organ screamed on high alert, but by then, I’d overtaken the other two units. Uncomfortable beyond belief, I writhed in my seat and set the accelerator for the speed limit plus tolerance once I exited town.

That 24 miles to Hays was miserable. Side roads called me to pull over until I glanced in my rearview mirror to see the bright orange end of that huge pillar trailing behind. In response, I squinched around until I found a tolerable position and maintained speed. No way was I letting either that convoy or a trooper slow me again.

By the time I reached Wendy’s, I had just enough lead for a pit stop that would permit me to stay ahead of my nemesis. I reached the dentist with two minutes to spare. That’s a close call for someone who’s been taught to arrive at least 10 minutes early to all life events.

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